Wake County District Attorney Race: Colon Willoughby Retiring (Earlier than Expected)

Willoughby in COurtColon Willoughby, the Wake County District Attorney, has announced that he is retiring by the end of the month and that he will be taking a position at the law and lobbying firm McGuireWoods, according to a report on WRAL.

Willoughby had announced in early January that he would not seek re-election for the office that he has held continuously since 1986. His decision to not run again was not wholly unexpected. But many had expected that Willoughby would remain in the office through the election.

Willoughby, a Democrat, will have his successor chosen by Republican Governor Pat McCrory to serve out the balance of his term.

Governor McCrory could choose from among the current candidates, or could choose a caretaker (such as First Assistant District Attorney Howard Cummings, a respected prosecutor who will ensure continuity through the election season) to serve as effectively an interim District Attorney until the new elected DA is sworn into office after the November elections.

If McCrory chooses from among the current Republican candidates, it would give that person a decided edge in the election since that person could run as the sitting, acting District Attorney.

Candidates (in alphabetical order by party) include:



  • John Bryant


  • Jeff Cruden



  • Jefferson Griffin



  • Allen SwaimDemocrats


  • Nancy “Lorrin” Freeman


  • Benjamin “Boz” Zellinger


Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.